Friday, May 18, 2007

On The Philosophical Connection Between Hegel and DGB Philosophy

People like the familiar and the secure. People like to try new things.

Here we have two antagonistic statements -- they are saying basically opposite things. What can we say about this? One is true and the other is false? Or -- alternatively, they both have their own respective realm of truth and reality?

The first is an 'either/or' perspective -- often the curse of mankind -- as people battle, often violently over their respective beliefs of 'right' and 'wrong'.

It might not always be so bad if people could always respect each other's differences in opinions and leave their debates on the democratic, debating floor but too often people's personal biases, personal blinders, personal narcissism, and personal righteousness takes them to a place that keeps escalating to the point of tempers flaring, fists flying, even weapons becoming involved. Thus, an 'either/or' perspective too often leads to over-righteousness, close-mindedness, personal narcissism and bad will between people with different opinions.

My name is David Bain. I have an honours degree in psychology, a background in Gestalt Therapy (founded mainly by Fritz Perls), and a decent understanding of Freud, Psychoanalysis, Jung and Jungian Psychology.

There are at least two or three important philosophers from the 19th century who had a strong impact on each of these three psychologists. Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. You could add Kierkegaard and Korzybski in there as far as also having an important influence on the development of Gestalt Therapy.

Most important arguably of all of them is G.W. Hegel (1770-1831). He was the starting point -- or at least the first philosopher to put together in a coherent, understandable form (not that Hegel couldn't be far from easily understandable oftentimes) -- a new form of logic, a new form of reasoning, a new form of 'evolution theory' before Darwin.

Up until Hegel, much of Western Philosophy was 'righteous, either/or' philosophy -- every philosopher with a different perspective that took off from the philosopher before him or her which he or she at least partly disagreed with. Protagonist and antagonist. Thesis and anti-thesis. Where was the truth?

What Hegel said in the clearest fashion up to his point in philosophical history -- and to be sure his ideas didn't come our of nowhere; credit must be given partly to Fichte and Kant before him, as well as much further back in the deepest roots of ancient Greek philosophy in the work of Anaxamander and Heraclitus, and later in China in work leading up to the synthesis of the Han Philosophers in the Han Dynasty and the beginning of the eastern concepts of 'yin' and 'yang'.

What came together in very coherent fashion for the first time in Hegel was the beginning of 'dialectical thinking', 'dialectical logic', 'dialectical reasoning', and the principle of 'dialectical evolution'.

Opposite ideas are not right or wrong but part of a 'greater dialectical whole' -- a 'greater, wholistic truth and unity that comes together when both opposing parts of the dialectic are creatively integrated together in a fashion that maximimizes their respective strengths and 'truth-value' while ideally minimimizing their respective weaknesses'.

Thus, 'truth', according to Hegel, is often not in a 'righteous, either/or' philosophical position but rather in the creative negotiation and integration of the opposite philosophical perspectives. This is the essence of dialectical logic, reasoning, wholism, unity, and evolution.

And it is the starting point of Hegel's Hotel: GAP-DGBN Philosophy-Psychology-Politics...

Now I know that most of my potential readers out there probably don't like fancy, technical acronyms that mean little or nothing to you. What the heck is 'GAP-DGBN' Philosophy?

Well, to begin with, you will see that I tend to use a lot of different hyphenated words -- and for a very good reason. It is the essence of 'dialectical logic and reasoning' -- integrating different things, processes, and concepts together in a way that was quite different than the way these different things, processes, and concepts were dialectically separated and alienated from each other before the 'dialectical contact, creative negotiation, and integration' came about.

Have I lost you, or are you still with me? If you have a background in Hegelian philosophy and logic, then you are probably still with me. If you are a beginning philosophy student, trying out philosophy for perhaps the first time, then maybe I am intimidating you by throwing out fancy, technical combinations like 'dialectical this' and 'dialectical that'... Don't be intimidated. Like anything in life, it is all about repetition, getting used to the language, the technical words that are a part of any serious philosophy, art, and/or science of investigation. Sometimes -- oftentimes -- new words can take you new places in your thinking and in your perspective on life -- think of this as a 'first dialectical philosophy date' -- unless of course I am writing to a more experienced 'dialectical reader'. I want you both.

Regarding the first acronym -- 'GAP'. Firstly, I philosophize in the 'gaps' between other philosophical perspectives and paradigms. Secondly, I have been heavily influenced by Gestalt Therapy, significantly influenced by Adlerian Psychology, and significantly influenced by Psychoanalysis -- which combine to form the letter 'G-A-P'. There you have two different reasons for the first acronym -- 'GAP' -- a name I have been using since at least 1991.

Now regarding the second acronym - 'DGBN'. My philosophy is not only about 'gaps' but it is about 'bridging gaps' -- it is about 'dialectically bridging gaps' -- it is about 'Dialectical-GAP-Bridging-Negotiations'. Practically every essay I write is about Dialectical-GAP-Bridging-Negotiations. My essays are about the 'creative void or gap' that demands a 'creative leap into the void or gap' hoping, trusting, expecting, that in the process of leaping into the creative void, my creative problem-solving and conflict-resolving abilities will help me to 'dialectically bridge the gap' between the 'two opposing cliffs and the abyss between them'. The 'two cliffs' could be anything or anyone -- Marx and Adam Smith (or Ayn Rand), socialism and capitalism, liberalism and conservatism, black and white, religious and atheist, scientific and artistic, Freud and Adler, Freud and Jung, Freud and Perls, Hegel and Nietzsche...

Let's talk quickly about Nietzsche before we finish up this essay. (We will talk about him much more later.) Nietzsche didn't want anything to do with Hegel and yet Nietzsche's first book -- 'The Birth of Tragedy' -- was a brilliant post-Hegelian work that in my opinion was the bridge between Hegel and Psychoanalysis (as well as such mofifications of Psychoanalysis as Jungian Psychology and Gestalt Therapy).

My favorite Nietzschean metaphor is the metaphor of the 'tightrope and the abyss'.
Call it the 'Nietzschean Tightrope of Life'. We all need courage to live, to live passionately and creatively, and to take risks -- to take 'leaps of faith and trust' into 'creative voids', into abysses, where only a faith in our own problem-solving abilities will help us to build the 'tightrope', the 'bridge' across the abyss. It is only on the Nietzschean tightrope of life -- often in the midst of great anxiety relative to the looming abyss below us -- the 'pit of life' if you will -- that we can find both ourselves and find others in creativity, intimacy, love, and vulnerability -- a little less scary perhaps than Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum, but scary none-the-less -- Nietzsche's 'Tightrope and the Abyss'. In Gestalt Therapy this is called 'the hot seat'.

There is one, actually two, other meanings of the acronym -- 'DGBN'.

'Democracy Goes Beyond Narcissism'. You will have to read my papers on narcissism and politics if you want a better understanding of this philosophical assertion.

And, oh yes. 'DGBN' just happens to also represent four of the letters in my name. Everyone is entitled to a little egotism and narcissism relative to the things that we create -- just as long as we don't turn into 'egotistical, narcissistic monsters'.

I will do my best not to go there.

db, May 14th, 2007.

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